This summer, Legoland Florida is helping families deal with Veloxrotaphobia, or fear of roller coasters, by arming parents with “Roller Coaster Readiness” tips. [Read more…]
We were invited to a special preview of the Parks and Resorts pavilion, dubbed Carousel of Projects, last night at Disney’s D23 Expo 2011 in Anaheim, Calif. [Read more…]
We were invited on another hard hat tour of Legoland Florida yesterday. This was our first that really showed signs of what’s to come. Legoland Florida opens to the public in about two and a half months on Oct. 15 in Winter Haven, Fla. The 150 acre family theme park will feature more than 50 rides, shows, attractions and of course, plenty of Lego citizens. [Read more…]
By Andy Guinigundo
When last we heard from our friends at Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania, they had just won a Pepsi “Refresh” $50,000 grant to go toward the restoration of their classic Blue Steak roller coaster. This grant plus the continuing support of park fans and coaster enthusiasts have made it possible for the Blue Streak to remain open for the whole 2011 season, the first time in a long time, and hopefully for seasons to come. [Read more…]
Busch Gardens has released a full point-of-view ride video from the front row of Cheetah Hunt, their newest roller coaster. So what are you waiting for? Click play to be launched now. [Read more…]
By Andy Guinigundo
So what’s the secret to good health into one’s 8th decade of life and beyond? Is it eating right? Staying off the booze and cigarettes? Exercise? Apparently for one 88-year-old, the answer is frequenting an amusement park and hopping on her favorite coaster. In this case the park is Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio and the favorite coaster, The Diamondback. [Read more…]
This spring, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will welcome families to an all-new, Sesame Street-themed play land. Sesame Street Safari of Fun will be filled with kid-size rides, water fun, shows and adventures that celebrate the spirit of Africa.
“This new attraction is going to be unlike anything families have encountered before, with unique African-inspired costumes for Elmo, Big Bird and their friends, and exciting adventures for families to share,” said Donnie Mills, Busch Gardens’ executive vice president and general manager. “With the addition of Sesame Street Safari of Fun, Busch Gardens truly has something for all ages, and this new destination in the park is certain to be a hit among families and kids.”
One highlight of the area is a new junior roller coaster designed for parents and children to ride together. “Air Grover” is full of mini-dives and twisty turns as families soar through the Sahara. “Oscar’s Swamp Stomp” provides cool water fun, and “Bert & Ernie’s Water Hole” is a wet adventure filled with bubblers, geysers, jets, dumping buckets and more. “Big Bird’s 123-Smile with Me” photography studio gives kids the chance to share a hug and a smile with Sesame Street friends, and musical performances bring safari tales to life.
The new destination for family-friendly adventure is being created where Land of the Dragons exists, and will double the area’s current size to 2.5 acres.
In addition to the rides and play areas, families will also be able to watch their favorite characters on the big screen. “Sesame Street presents Lights, Camera, Imagination!” will run in the park’s 4-D theater, located in Timbuktu. The fun-filled, 4-D movie brings Sesame Street Muppets’ adventures to life with zany 3-D gags and special effects like wind, water and jump-out-of-your-seat surprises.
Families will be able to share breakfast and lunch with Elmo and his friends on select days at an outdoor dining facility adjacent to Sesame Street Safari of Fun.
Rides and Play Areas
Air Grover: A junior coaster full of turns, mini-dives for parents and kids to ride together.
The Count’s Zambezi Rally: A kid-size car ride that takes you on a jaunt through desert and tribal trails.
Zoe-Patra & the Hippos of the Nile: A splashy flume ride through the famed river.
Snuffy’s Elephant Romp: Fly around and around and up and down on Snuffy’s fun friends.
Elmo’s Safari Go-Round: A tribal-inspired carousel with Elmo and his friends.
Rosita’s Djembe Fly-Away: A swing ride through the jungle that sends kids whirling above the African canopy.
Big Bird’s Whirly Birdie: It’s funny side up on Big Bird’s delightfully playful Ferris wheel ride.
Telly’s Jungle Jam: Explore sounds, shapes and shadows in this naturally engaging play area for kids of all abilities.
Elmo’s Treehouse Trek: A three-story hideaway to play hide-n-seek and get a bird’s eye view of the entire play land.
Cookie Monster’s Canopy Crawl: Climb, crawl and explore this three-story net climb.
Slimey’s Sahara Sand: A fun-filled, sand-filled beachy oasis where kids can frolic in the coolest desert around.
Oscar’s Swamp Stomp: Stomp, splash and play in Oscar’s delightfully cool water play area.
Bert & Ernie’s Watering Hole: A water adventure filled with bubblers, geysers, jets, dumping buckets and more.
Sunny Day Theater: Musical performances bring tales of adventure to life.
Sesame Street presents “Lights, Camera, Imagination!”: A 4-D movie that brings the Sesame Street Muppets’ adventures to life with zany 3-D gags and special effects like wind, water and jump-out-of-your-seat surprises. Plays in 4-D theater in Timbuktu area of the park.
Dine with Elmo and Friends: Share breakfast or lunch with Elmo and his friends on select days at an outdoor dining facility adjacent to Sesame Street Safari of Fun.
Snack-n-Getti Tribal Treats: Tasty treats to keep your energy up.
Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Hut: A bazaar of unique items, including tons of safari treasures and Sesame Street gifts you can’t find any place else.
Cookie Monster’s Trading Post: Looks like Cookie Monster’s cravings have gone beyond sweets. Check out his trading post full of safari-inspired fun gifts.
Air Grover Ride Photos
Big Bird’s 123-Smile with Me: Meet and greet the Sesame Street characters.
Vice President of Design & Engineering Mark Rose chats with Bif, the construction-worker Muppet, sharing details of the construction of Busch Gardens’ new Sesame Street Safari of Fun area during a media hard-hat tour on Thursday. After the presentation, Rose led the media on a tour of the construction site (top photo).
Element Skateboard Team members (from left) Chad Muska, Chad Tim Tim, Bam Margera, Collin Provost and Mike Vallely signed autographs for fans on Aug. 3, 2009, at Element’s newest store located at CityWalk.
They also had a chance to ride on The Incredible Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure.
Photos by Kevin Kolczynski, Universal Orlando Resort
SeaWorld has always offered a way to drift off to sleep while snuggling up near penguins, snoozing by sharks and dreaming with dolphins as part of an overnight experience. But now guests can discover the sea like never before during sleepovers at Manta, a flying roller coaster and animal habitat all in one.
Families and groups are immersed in an underwater world surrounded by exotic fish, rays and sea dragons inside the floor-to-ceiling aquariums where guests can count sea life instead of sheep to fall asleep. Each evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with a pizza party, activities and a special craft to take home.
Sleepovers are available year-round at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens for families and groups. The programs are flexible and available for birthday parties, individuals, school groups and scout groups. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens sleepovers are accredited by the American Camping Association.
Today’s Orlando Sentinel front page story is on the future Wizarding World of Harry Potter land at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. After some digging and talking with people “in and around the project”, they’re reporting some details on the main ride that will be housed in Hogwart’s Castle:
The castle will also house what is expected to be the Wizarding World’s signature attraction. Several people familiar with the project, including one person directly involved, said the ride will be what’s known as a “robocoaster” — a ride system in which guests sit in seats suspended from a robotic arm that can swivel and swoop in multiple directions while it advances along a track.
Plans show the track snaking through more than a dozen scenes, though what those scenes will be remains a mystery. The attraction, according to the people familiar with it, will also feature an elaborate pre-show queue with special effects such as floating candles and snow falling indoors.
Click here to read the full story with more details on some of the rumored features of the new “theme park within a theme park”.
Some members of coastercrew.com have posted the below video showing the video playing on the recently installed video screens in the waiting area at Universal Studios’ Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster.
From watching the video, it appears some of the artists you’ll be able to choose to listen to while riding are:
The Beastie Boys
Marrs – Pump Up The Volume
The Crystal Method
Shiny Toy Guns
Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
ZZ Top – Gimme All Your Lovin’
Motley Crue – Kickstart My Heart
(I didn’t recognize all the songs. Can you fill in the blanks?)
It also gives you a look at some of the animated characters as they give you instructions for getting on the coaster. They say you have 30 seconds to select your song after getting in your seat.
No opening date has been set for the coaster yet.
Universal Orlando is taking social media to another level with the creation of “rock legend” Syd Vinyl. The character of Syd, “one of the most famous death metal cyper punk fusion stars of the ’80s,” has been consulting with Universal on their upcoming Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster.
Syd even has his own Facebook and Twitter accounts. It seems Universal team members and their friends have been busy. Syd has been Tweeting since June 17 and has more than 50 followers. His Facebook account already has more than 250 fans.
Here’s a video of Syd in the back of his limo.
You can read more about Syd Vinyl and the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster at www.hollywoodripriderockit.com.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit will be a high-speed rush of first-ever maneuvers, hit music and specially created take-home videos starring each rider. These experiences have never been brought together on a coaster before – and rely on extreme technologies being used in entirely new ways.
The ride vehicle is a high-performance hot rod that features a new restraint system designed to put riders closer to the experience than ever. They pick their own music using industrial-grade touchpads that operate with the sophistication of an iPod. Songs from five genres of music will be pumped through individual sound systems that rely on all-weather speakers typically reserved for high-performance sports boats. And the network of cameras that will create the guest videos are used on high-speed trains and engineered to work in the toughest conditions.
Here is how it all comes together:
Guests will slide into the bucket seat of the specially designed X-CAR. The X-CAR’s wheelbase is short enough to allow for tight, intricate maneuvers. The vehicle features stadium-style seating so everyone has an unobstructed view. And there is no over-head/pull-down restraint system. Instead, a revolutionary lap bar allows for unprecedented freedom of movement.
Guest Interface Panel
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is the country’s only coaster where guests can choose the soundtrack to their ride from songs representing five different genres of music. They will use a personal touchpad – or guest interface panel – mounted on the lap bar to make their selection. The panel is designed for ease of use and visibility. It is military-grade durable and waterproof. And it uses wireless servers to upload each rider’s music pick.
Each seat is outfitted with Polk Audio marine-grade stereo speakers that can push out 165 watts. Guests will rock to 90 decibels of music – and yet never hear the songs playing for other riders. This sound system – typically installed on wakeboard boats – gives riders an entirely new way to experience music.
Cameras and Video
There are 14 cameras that will capture the guest experience: six on-board each ride vehicle and eight along the track. They are designed to provide production-quality footage under intense conditions. Used on high-speed trains, the digital cameras will perform at ultra-high data capture rates for up to 14 hours a day – all at variable Gs and high-speeds.
A series of lasers will trigger timing devices and computers to ensure that the rider’s music and video are in sync. After the ride, each guest video is downloaded wirelessly from the ride vehicle to a viewing kiosk in 25 seconds. Guests will be able to purchase a specially edited take-home version of their experience and share it with their family and friends.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is the only coaster in the world with daytime LED color-changing lights. Each ride vehicle has 36 different lights that will be programmed to change color and to either be steady, strobe, twinkle, race or pulse. That means the coaster will be an ever-changing light show for those on the ground.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit features the country’s only operating moving roller coaster load platform – meaning it uses a people-mover-style conveyer belt to get people to their vehicles so that riders and vehicles never come to a complete stop. This allows vehicles to leave the station every 23 seconds.
Power gets to each vehicle’s cameras and computers via on-board capacitors that get freshly charged each time the vehicle passes through the load station – similar to how an electric subway train is powered. And finally – the brains of the system is a network of self-checking computers called Programmable Logic Controllers which constantly check the entire system and synchronize wirelessly.
“This is where high-speed coaster meets outdoor mega-concert meets user-generated content – all shot on production-quality video,” said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative. “No one has ever created such a sophisticated ride experience. And no one has ever used technology the way we have to pull it all together.”
• Check out the point-of-view video simulation in our previous post.
This was just posted from SeaWorld’s official Twitterer, @RealShamu: “I have decided to open Manta early. Tuesday, May 5 at noon. Yes, I have that kind of pull. When you speak of me, speak well.”
They’ve also just posted this video of the ride from the guest’s point of view.
SeaWorld has a new video on their ridetheflyingray.com Web site showing behind the scenes of their new Manta coaster. It looks like the video was shot about a month ago, but it still offers an interesting look at the ride vehicles and the Manta tanks.
Let’s start our update with what’s most interesting to most people, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You can compare the above photo with a part of the concept art below. It looks to be the entrance to the new “world”. I took this picture by the old entrance to Dueling Dragons.
Just past that entrance to your left is this building …
You can compare it to the below concept art. I took this from the new bridge. The building stands where the Enchanted Oak Tavern used to be.
My last Harry Potter update picture is of what’s been known so far as the big gray box.
I’m guessing that most of the outside of the building will be covered with the rocks and moss as seen in the above art and the towers and spires will be added later.
On to some non-Potter things. Universal is catching on to the stuff your own toy craze. Here you can choose from SpongeBob to Spider-Man to stuff. SeaWorld also has an area to stuff your own Shamu and other animals. I haven’t seen a place at Disney to stuff your own Mickey yet, but you can Build-A Dino at the T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney.
Some cool new Cat In The Hat items.
As seen from Islands of Adventure. The Hollywood Rip, Ride Rockit Coaster still needs some more track.
And finally, this caught my eye near the Margaritaville outside bar. It’s a portable Guitar Hero game on the back of a golf-cart shaped like a shark.
I spend the later half of the day at Universal Studios yesterday. It was a Mardi Gras day and Kelly Clarkson was set to perform at 9:15 p.m.
• For more pictures from Universal Mardi Gras, visit our Photo Gallery.
• For more pictures of Kelly Clarkson and other American Idol stars, visit our American Idol Experience opening Photo Gallery.